The brief explores the current state of career and technical education programs in the context of changing economic conditions and job skill expectations.
"This issue brief will explore the essential role that career and technical education (CTE) programs play in addressing many of the issues faced by unemployed and underemployed workers. These programs target the adult learner through short-term and accelerated courses; utilize flexible learning approaches to account for students’ other responsibilities; include wrap- around support services to increase student success; and concentrate on high-demand career areas to ensure students are prepared for jobs that exist in local economies" (p. 1). (Abstractor: Author)

Major Findings & Recommendations

- Job-Skills Mismatch: The current long-term unemployment trend stems from a widespread mismatch between unemployed workers’ skills and the current needs of employers. Unemployed and underemployed workers generally do not have the skills or knowledge to find competitive, full-time employment paying family-sustaining wages and offering opportunities for advancement. - Offer Short-Term and Accelerated Programs: One of the biggest advances in CTE worker retraining programs has been the development of short-term and accelerated programs designed to return individuals to the workforce quickly. These programs provide people an opportunity to upgrade and develop skills in a fast-paced, rigorous educational environment. Such options are appealing to individuals who are unable to invest the time or money needed for full-time, traditional postsecondary programs, which often take up to two years to complete. - Utilize Flexible Learning Approaches: Underemployed workers or workers looking to update or learn new skills often struggle to fulfill the time requirements of school due to other responsibilities and commitments. In addition to packaging programs in an accelerated format, many other flexible options have been developed to help students manage program requirements, including evening or online courses and other alternative schedules. - Offer Specific Support Services: The population of unemployed and underemployed workers includes many individuals with particular needs, and CTE programs often offer wrap-around support services or tailored programs to meet these needs. These programs tailor the education and training to the specific background and individual needs of the learners in order to help these students obtain higher levels of success. Experts suggest that “intentionally integrating student support into coursework circumvents many of the barriers that keep students from these services” and ultimately leads to higher achievement. - Focus on High-Demand Career Areas: CTE programs have focused attention on high-demand careers in their local areas. By identifying the high-need areas within a state or region, CTE programs can cater to those in need of retraining and specifically address local economic issues at the same time. The ability to meet to local workers’ needs makes these programs extremely valuable to the local, state and national economy. (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)